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(PART FOUR) Santa Cruz Farmers Keep Food Banks Afloat With Tons of Fresh Produce

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Healthy Living

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ, CA (Sept. 2011) - Farmers in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties donate thousands of tons of fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks every year, supplying feeding centers as far away as Washington and Colorado.

It’s a massive foodlift operation that all began 38 years ago with a freezer full of slightly yellow cauliflower.

The year was 1973, and Michael Alexander was a VISTA volunteer assigned to a tiny emergency food pantry in Santa Cruz, where his job was to scrounge up dented cans and long-in-the-tooth produce from grocery stores to hand out to needy families.

“One day I got a call from a lady in Watsonville who told me she had some cauliflower that she hated to see thrown away, and did we want it,” Alexander said. “I thought it was a great idea and I asked ‘how much do you have?’ And she said “oh, about 30 tons’.”

 

Read more: (PART FOUR) Santa Cruz Farmers Keep Food...

 

(PART THREE) Evaluating Nutrition Education Efforts at Santa Cruz's Second Harvest Food Bank

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Healthy Living

By Tara Leonard

WATSONVILLE, CA (September, 2011) - As the staff and volunteers at Second Harvest Food Bank work to combine food distribution with community-based nutrition education, the obvious questions arise: Do these peer education programs actually make a difference? Do participants change their eating habits for the better? And do these behavioral changes create measurable differences in participants' health? While anecdotal evidence points towards a positive impact, hard data is not yet available. But with scarce social service resources increasingly allocated to evidence-based practices, data collection is becoming a bigger focus at Second Harvest.

Read more: (PART THREE) Evaluating Nutrition Educat...

   

(PART TWO) Peer Education and Nutrition Outreach at Santa Cruz's Second Harvest Food Bank

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Healthy Living

By Tara Leonard

WATSONVILLE, CA (September, 2011) -- In a Watsonville elementary school auditorium, sixty adults brainstorm ways to incorporate exercise into their busy lives. In a meeting room at nearby Church of the Nazarene, several dozen men, women and children whip up delicious licuados, or smoothies, made with fresh spinach, oranges, and melon. At Dominican Rehabilitation Hospital, thirty women take a brisk stroll around the grounds before gathering in a third-floor lounge to cook vegetable stir-fry with brown rice, garlic and ginger.

All of these activities are a part of the nutrition education and outreach services of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County. By combining fresh fruit and vegetable delivery with health education, Second Harvest is empowering food bank members to become active participants in their community’s nutrition education. It’s just one of many ways in which Second Harvest has transformed itself from a “food bank” to a “nutrition bank”. Along the way, they are creating the community organizers of tomorrow.

Read more: (PART TWO) Peer Education and Nutrition...

   

(PART ONE) Santa Cruz Food Bank Switches Focus From Calories to Nutrition

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Healthy Living

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ, CA (Sept. 2011) – When California’s first food bank opened in this Central Coast city in 1972, its mission was simple and practical: eliminate hunger by collecting society’s surplus food and giving it to people in need.

Families with a referral from a social service agency could come to the Emergency Food Bank in the city’s Harvey West Business Park and take home a bag of groceries containing three days worth of food.

“Our emergency food bags held dented canned goods that we collected from grocery stores, bags of rice and dried beans, and whatever fresh vegetables the stores would give us,” said Michael Alexander, who began working at the food bank as a VISTA volunteer and eventually transformed the little pantry into the Second Harvest Food Bank, a regional powerhouse that now feeds more than 54,000 people every month. “We gave away one bag per person in the family, and people survived on that.”

But over the years, the mix of donated foods flowing into Second Harvest’s Watsonville warehouse changed dramatically, reflecting wider changes in the American diet and food supply. Agricultural commodities such as apples, rice, and beans were overwhelmed by a flood of processed foods, including tons of sugary soda and energy drinks.

 

Read more: (PART ONE) Santa Cruz Food Bank Switche...

   

A Helping HAND: Support Group Comforts Parents After Neonatal Death

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Healthy Living

Written by Tara Leonard

SOQUEL (January, 2011) - Imagine that for three, six or nine months you’ve prepared for your baby’s arrival. You’ve counted the days, painted the nursery, and giggled at prospective names. You’ve relished the smiles of expectant grandparents and welcomed the good wishes of friends and family members. Then the unimaginable happens – a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. Instead of a bundle of joy, you leave the hospital with bottomless grief, unanswered questions and empty arms.
HAND of Santa Cruz is a support group for parents who have experienced this devastating loss. HAND stands for Helping After Neonatal Death and for many parents it becomes a critical source of solace, a place where they find both acceptance of their enduring pain and the strength to move forward.  

Read more: A Helping HAND: Support Group Comforts P...

   

Lice Advice? Don't Panic!

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Healthy Living

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (January 2011) – New shoes, a blank notebook, and first-day jitters are classic signs of a new semester. But nothing says “back to school” like a note from the school nurse telling you that your child's class has been exposed to head lice.
Humans have shared their body warmth and blood supply with head lice for millennia, and our species have co-evolved to the point where our head lice are unable to survive on any other creature, or more than a few hours apart from our tender, tasty scalps.
Yet despite our intimate historical acquaintance with Pediculosis capitis, most parents come unhinged at the sight of these seed-sized villains milling about in their child’s hair.

Read more: Lice Advice? Don't Panic!

   

Clean Wisely (Not Widely) To Banish Lice

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Healthy Living - Healthy Living

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (January 2011) – Discovering lice on your child’s head is more than a medical issue – it can throw your household into a tailspin. At a moment’s notice you may have to keep your children home from school, spend hours combing through their hair, and rid your home of an unknown number of teeny-tiny bugs.
It’s a particularly grim scenario for working parents. And unfortunately, bad advice about defeating lice is almost at prolific as are the little beasts themselves.

Read more: Clean Wisely (Not Widely) To Banish Lice

   

Children and Concussion: Return-to-Play Guidelines Welcomed by Parents, Coaches

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Healthy Living - Healthy Living

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ (December, 2010) – When Johanna Epps' daughter got a concussion while playing soccer at a San Jose tournament, the Santa Cruz mother was understandably worried. Adding to her stress was a lack of clarity about when it was safe for 16-year-old Helena to return to play. Because Helena had lost consciousness, she was diagnosed at a nearby emergency room. Nonetheless, "she wanted to play later that day," Epps recalled. "And the hospital staff wasn't specific about how long she should wait. They told her she should 'give it some time,' but I think it was less than a week before she was back at practice."
There have been many recent studies, surveys, and news articles on head injuries. Yet like many parents, Epps was not aware of return-to-play guidelines for young concussed athletes. The September edition of the journal Pediatrics spells them out, giving parents, coaches and healthcare providers an important tool in determining when it's safe for concussed players to get back in the game.

Read more: Children and Concussion: Return-to-Play ...

   

Tattoo Remorse - Better Think Before You Ink

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Healthy Living

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (October 2009) - Tattoos have waxed and waned in popularity over the centuries, but the current craze for body ink took off in the late 1980s, and Harvard dermatology professor Richard Rox Anderson, M.D., often wonders if he was partially responsible.
Anderson developed the modern tattoo-removal laser in the late 1980s, a technology shift he suspects touched off the tattoo tsunami.
“The popularity of tattooing soared in the US shortly after laser tattoo removal was commercialized,” Anderson said. “Nobody knows exactly why. (But in) my opinion, one of the deterrents to getting a tattoo – its permanence – was removed in the public’s collective mind.”

Read more: Tattoo Remorse - Better Think Before You...

   

iPods and Ear Damage, Limiting Dangerous Decibels

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Healthy Living

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ  - When the iPod was introduced in 2001, it was a $400 toy for tech-savvy grownups. Today, with sales in the hundreds of millions, these tiny agents of auditory obliviousness have penetrated every level of society. They’re helping joggers set the pace, providing bus riders with a sense of privacy, and convincing teenagers that they’re living life to the beat of a movie soundtrack.
And those ubiquitous earbuds are increasingly being wedged into the ears of young children. My daughter recently complained that she was one of only three kids in her 5th grade class who didn’t have an iPod. Some of her classmates have owned portable MP3 players for years.
I resisted her pleas. We wear sunscreen and bike helmets, and keep fresh batteries in the smoke detectors. Why would I hand my kid a device capable of blasting 105 decibels directly into her eardrums?

Read more: iPods and Ear Damage, Limiting Dangerous...

   

Acupuncture Goes to the Dogs

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Healthy Living

Written by Tara Leonard

APTOS (December, 2008) -- The acupuncture patient rests quietly as Dr. Patty Wilson takes his pulse, examines his tongue, and begins to insert thin, flexible needles into his legs, back and neck. “How’s that feel?” Wilson gently asks, leaning over the treatment table for a final insertion. The patient licks her face.
The affectionate patient is Rocco, a 12-year-old Jack Russell Terrier with bright eyes, perky ears, and a constantly wagging tail. You’d never guess that just months ago this brown-and-white bundle of energy was listless, incontinent, and shaking uncontrollably as the result of an endocrine disorder called Cushing’s Disease. Traditional veterinary medicine offered two treatments: complicated surgery or drug therapy with potentially toxic side-effects. Owner Robert Mettalia chose a third option, an integrative approach that combines the best of Western veterinary practice with Eastern techniques such as acupuncture and herbology.

Read more: Acupuncture Goes to the Dogs

   

Grandmother for Hire: Postpartum Doulas Ease Transition to Parenthood

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Healthy Living

Written by Tara Leonard

For nine months, prospective parents imagine a cherubic baby, sleeping soundly while they visit with admiring well-wishes. Then reality strikes. Suddenly mom and dad are up all night with a crying baby. Every time they try to nap the phone or doorbell rings. The laundry piles up, the house is a mess, and neither exhausted parent has a clue how to bathe a newborn. Meanwhile grandma, who flew all the way from Pittsburgh to help, can only cook fried chicken, has an aversion to dirty diapers and can't imagine why anyone would want to breastfeed when formula was just fine for her children (although, Lord knows, she doesn't mean to criticize.)

Read more: Grandmother for Hire: Postpartum Doulas ...

   

The Write Stuff: Yoga Class Relaxes Muscles and the Creative Mind

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Healthy Living

Written by Tara Leonard

I'm standing in a spare, tranquil room blessedly free of mirrors. My bare feet are planted on the polished wood floor, arms raised, elbows out, fingers splayed against the wall above my head. Triceps trembling, I steal a glance at my fellow students, wondering if anyone else is suffering from this seemingly simple pose.

Read more: The Write Stuff: Yoga Class Relaxes Musc...

   

Healing Hands: East Supports West in the Battle Against Cancer

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Healthy Living

Written by Tara Leonard

Talk with Serena MacMullan about her battle with breast cancer and she makes one thing perfectly clear: Mary Morgan saved her life. Morgan is not an oncologist, radiologist or surgeon. She’s not MacMullan’s mother, sister or best friend. Mary Morgan is an acupuncturist.

Read more: Healing Hands: East Supports West in the...

   

See How They Run: Track Club Gets Locals Up to Speed

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Healthy Living

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ (November, 2007) -- Everyone knows that running is good for you. It strengthens your heart and lungs, burns calories to control weight, and reduces stress. Which all sounds great until the alarm goes off on a foggy Saturday morning and the thought of lacing up those Nikes is about as appealing as fighting commute traffic at the fish hook. Most people would just as soon hit the snooze button.
For them, there’s the Santa Cruz Track Club (SCTC).  

Read more: See How They Run: Track Club Gets Locals...